What do you think happens to the victims of child abuse? Child abuse can lead to mental health issues, behavioral issues, and sometimes they are driven to criminal behavior! Every one in four kids experiences child abuse in their lifetime(Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention). With an estimation of every one in four kids experiencing child abuse sometime in their lifetime, that means around eighteen million kids out of seventy-four million kids in the US(O’Hare 4). We have to protect our youth from the damaging effects of child abuse to prevent harm to their future.
Children that experience a form of abuse can develop serious mental health issues. In the book “The Lost Boy” written by Dave Pelzer young David started with a good life but it changed into a bad life very quickly. He was mentally and physically abused by mother.
This lead to David being isolated in his life as his brothers and dad let the abuse happen. There was nobody on his side until his school called social services. Even after being removed from the home he was always afraid that his mother would be around some corner to grab him and take him back to his old life. After finally overcoming this issue David had other issues to face. In his old life he did not have any friends at his school he was always alone. He was isolated because he was always dirty and had old used clothing. With never having this social contact at his old school he started craving it with his new life and new school. David decided that to fit in he would do what other people told him to do.
This lead to him having behavior issues of stealing. His behavior lead him to being kicked out of his foster home and reassigned. Again David still acted out to make friends. He knew they were using him but he did not care, he just wanted a “friend”. The lack of relationships with other people caused David to do anything to fit in. In David’s case all that had to be done was for his family to stand up against his mother as soon as it started. It was eventually reported but it was too late, David had already developed his own demons. Abuse has to be stopped early to avoid these lifelong mental health issues.
How would you feel if you knew someone that had to act out like David to make friends? With the second leading cause of death in teens is suicide, is it possible it can be linked to mental health issues of abused children(Youth Suicide Statistics)? The abuse of kids has been linked to depression which leads to suicide(Victims of Child Abuse Suffer Long Term Consequences). Abuse makes kids feel as though they are not good enough, or you do not love them. Without feeling the love kids desperately need they develop clinical depression.
This puts thoughts into their head that reinforces the idea that they are not good enough or that they are not loved. The actions that depressed people take varies but most commonly they try to take their own life. They do this to escape their life, it is their way of running away.
To avoid this report abuse as early as you can, do not sit and watch them be abused. You may just save their life! Mental health issues are not the only consequence of abuse, kids can also develop behavioral issues. A good example of this is young David in Dave Pelzer’s book The Lost Boy. David originally had the mental health issue of feeling as though he was never going to be able to escape his mother. After he got over this he turned rebellious.
He did this all because he had been isolated and he craved having relationships with other people. He turned into a juvenile delinquent as he was frequently commiting the crime of shoplifting. He viewed these friendships he got with people through these acts as necessary for his well being. He just lacked the social understanding and or skills to make friends the right way. He lacked these skills because of the isolation that his mother put him through.
His mom made David himself his only friend. David never escalated his law breaking past petty crimes, abuse can cause people to create more heinous crimes. It has been linked that kids that have been exposed to violence through abuse are more likely to mirror these behaviors late in life(Gould). If mommy and daddy are always fighting and begin to beat on their poor children, these kids will later in life fight with people and escalate that verbal fight into a physical one and may accidentally or purposely seriously hurt them. This is the only way they know how to resolve these situations because thats all that they have been exposed to.
Children are easily impressionable so the time to teach them life skills is when they are young. If you only teach them violence that is all they are going to know. They will use violence as a “life skill”.
They may use this violence just like David did to fit in with a certain crowd. The best solution for this is again get them out of the environment early and teach them the right way to live. If we can stop this early not only will the effects of childhood abuse be limited, our incarceration rates would drop(Gould). Some may say how can we punish our kid if we can’t expose them to violence? Some parents go the route of spanking their children to fall into line. Spanking shouldn’t be viewed as right or wrong it should be viewed as appropriate or inappropriate(Frye). This means that spanking should not be the punishment for every action. There are certain times when it should and should not be used. Tom Frye states that spanking should never be used when the parent is angry.
It should be reinforced with the thought that you still love them and why they got spanked. He also states that it should only be used for a kid that knew that they were defying the parent. Parents have to recognize that spanking hurts mentally and physically. If you spank your child while you are angry that child is going to associate that hit with mommy or daddy is mad so they hit me. They will think every time the parents are mad they are going to get hit. After hitting your child tell that that you still love them and why they got hit. If they do not know why they got hit they will start being afraid of being hit for no reason. Spanking should not be used constantly as it turns into child abuse at that time.
There are always different ways to punish your child rather than just immediately hitting them. Child abuse has created severe consequences that include mental health issues such as depression, also behavioral issues like acting out to fit in, and also violence. Childhood abuse can lead to all of these issues or just one or two of them. Every abuse case is different and has different outcomes. The quicker you stop childhood abuse the less damaging the effects are on that person. If it goes on for long enough the effect can be irreversible and that person is always going to be like that.
Do not be afraid to report abuse, you may save their life! Put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine what they go through daily. How would you feel if you were in that position?